Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Industries

  • An GoossensEmail author
  • Julie Geebelen
  • Kim Vander Hulst
  • Liesbeth Gilissen
Reference work entry


Occupation-induced irritant, immediate- and delayed-type allergic skin reactions, as well as respiratory symptoms are not infrequently observed in the cosmetic and particularly the pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, workers may come in contact with irritant substances and also with chemically reactive intermediates, additives, or drugs, liable to be potential sensitizers. With a highly irritant and allergenic compound, one accidental exposure may cause a chemical burn, followed by primary sensitization, and allergic contact dermatitis.

We will mention a few causes of immediate-type allergic reactions but will focus on delayed-type allergic reactions, i.e., allergic contact dermatitis, which can be located at the site of contact, which is generally the hands. However, airborne reactions on exposed and nonexposed areas (e.g., by particles trapped under clothing) are not uncommon, and generalized reactions may occur due to inhalation or transcutaneous absorption.

The pharmaceutical allergens described belong to many different pharmacological classes.

If several cases occur in the same company, then the working conditions must be changed to prevent their recurrence. Measures to be taken include dust control and the installation of closed filter equipment and keeping the workers informed about the potential cutaneous and other risks associated with the manipulation of the chemicals they are likely to come in contact with. Moreover, individual protective measurements – adequate protecting gloves, clothing, mask, and, if necessary, boots – followed by close monitoring of their effectiveness are also necessary.


Allergic contact dermatitis Airborne Occupational Drugs Cosmetics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • An Goossens
    • 4
    Email author
  • Julie Geebelen
    • 2
  • Kim Vander Hulst
    • 3
  • Liesbeth Gilissen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyUniversity Hospital KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Private DermatologistAarschotBelgium
  4. 4.Contact Allergy Unit, Department of DermatologyUniversity Hospital K.U. LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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